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Firework safety stressed ahead of Fourth of July

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As the Fourth of July approaches, officials in Michiana want to remind people of a few firework safety tips so families can enjoy the holiday and stay safe. 

According to a recent report from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks killed five people and injured another 9,100 people in 2018. Sixty-two percent of those injuries happened between June 22 and July 22. 

Fire officials prefer people to watch a professional show, but South Bend Fire Captain Gerard Ellis says if people want to light a firecracker, it’s important to follow the usage instructions on its packaging. 

Ellis recommends people only buy consumer grade fireworks from an authorized dealer or store. 

“You want to make sure… that it’s an authorized dealer or store because you’re buying consumer grade fireworks,” said Ellis. “If you’re buying them from somebody else, depending on the age or if they got those fireworks from a commercial type dealer, you’re not dealing with the same type [of firework]. If you’re using a commercial device that professionals use and somebody’s buying that because they think it’s for consumer use, [there is a] huge difference there in safety.”

When setting fireworks off, Ellis says to do so in a designated area with 20 to 30 feet between the fireworks and the people watching them.

“We always recommend to wear safety goggles, gloves if you can,” said Ellis. 

Fireworks should not be used by anyone under the age of 18. 

“This year, so far, we haven’t had any like emergency calls, but it is possible,” said Ellis. “Thankfully we’ve had a lot of rain going up to the Fourth of July so things are still kind of wet, but they are drying out so you want to be aware of possible brush fires and things like that. Have some water on hand. Water is going to be your best factor for putting out a firework if you have to.” 

Ellis adds if a firework doesn’t go off, people should leave it alone for 20 to 30 minutes then douse it with water.

Following these precautions can prevent serious injuries or death. 

“It's a great holiday, Independence Day,” said Ellis. “People are home, they’re not working, it’s really cool watching them at night, plus just lighting them off, but you have to be aware of the dangers in there.” 

South Bend city ordinance allows fireworks between the hours of 5-11 p.m. from June 29- July 9. Those hours are extended from 10 a.m. - midnight on July 4. 

Fireworks may not be used or set off on any public street or public park within the city limits. The first offense is a $100 fine followed by a $250 fine for a second violation. A third and subsequent offenses will result in a $500 fine. 

June 29 through July 9, fireworks may be ignited within Mishawaka city limits between 5 p.m. and two hours after sunset. Those hours are extended on July 4 from 10 a.m. to midnight. 

Like South Bend, fireworks may not be used or set off on any public street or public park within Mishawaka city limits. Fireworks ignited on private property must have that property owner’s permission to do so. 

In St. Joseph County, fireworks can be shot off June 29 through July 9 during the hours of 5 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Those hours are extended from 10 a.m. to midnight on July 4. 

Violations of St. Joseph County’s ordinance can result in fines ranging from $100 to $2,500 on the first offense and $250 to $7,500 for the second offense. 

For a full list of firework shows in Michiana click here

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